Johann Simon maYR Franz Hauk Johann Simon maYR



Johann Simon maYR Franz Hauk Johann Simon maYR
2 CDs
Johann Simon MAYR
Andrea Lauren Brown • Markus Schäfer
Jaewon Yun • Marie Sande Papenmeyer • Katharina Ruckgaber • Daniel Preis
Members of the Bavarian State Opera Chorus
Simon Mayr Chorus • Concerto de Bassus
Franz Hauk
Johann Simon
ossia I riti d’Apollo Leucadio
Dramma per musica in due atti
Libretto by Antonio Simeone Sografi (1759-1818)
Saffo (Sappho) ................................................................ Andrea Lauren Brown, Soprano
Faone (Phaon) ................................................................................. Jaewon Yun, Soprano
Alceo (Alcaeus) ............................................................................. Markus Schäfer, Tenor
Amfizione (The Pythia) ................................. Marie Sande Papenmeyer, Mezzo-soprano
Laodamia .......................................................................... Katharina Ruckgaber, Soprano
Euricleo (Euricles) ............................................................................... Daniel Preis, Tenor
Followers of Saffo • Poets of Mytilene, following Alcaeus
Huntsmen following Faone • Priests, with the Pythian Priestess
Members of the Bavarian State Opera Chorus
Simon Mayr Chorus • Concerto de Bassus
Theona Gubba-Chkeidze, Concertmaster
Franz Hauk, Harpsichord and Conductor
CD 1
1 Sinfonia5:27
Atto Primo
2 Coro e Recitativo: Ecco la Pizia
(Coro, Saffo, Alceo, Faone)
3 Recitativo: Venerato Ministro, in me tu vedi
(Faone, Amfizione)
4 Aria: Queste esanimi e candide belve
5 Recitativo: Alceo di Mitilene s’offre agli sguardi
(Alceo, Amfizione)
6 Aria: Lasciai del campo gli orridi bellici
7 Recitativo: Venga di Lesbo la teoria
8 Entrata di Saffo1:10
9 Recitativo: Alfine premere m’è concesso
(Saffo, Amfizione)
0 Recitativo: Ah dicesti abbastanza
! Aria: L’onda del mar, che al vento
@ Recitativo: Andiam, offriamo, amici
# Aria: Dentro lo speco incognito 2:01
$ Recitativo: Non t’inoltrar, il passo arresta
(Alceo, Saffo)
% Recitativo: Ebben: t’appagherò
(Alceo, Saffo)
^ Recitativo: Ah, s’egli fosse giunto
(Saffo, Alceo)
& Aria: Torni la pace al cor
* Recitativo: O mie compagne udiste
( Coro di Cacciatori: Serena il tuo pensier
) Recitativo: Amici, al vostro affetto grato io son
(Faone, Saffo)
¡ Recitativo: Ah sì per lei l’Eliso istesso
(Faone, Saffo)
™ Aria: Sfidar in sol per lei (Faone)
£ Recitativo: Ecco l’oracol mio (Alceo, Saffo)
¢ Recitativo: Ch’il pronunziò? (Alceo, Saffo, Faone, Coro)
∞ Finale: Amor crudel deh non mi togliere
(Faone, Saffo, Alceo, Coro)
CD 2
Atto Secondo
1 Coro: Sciogli gli accenti tuoi
2 Recitativo: Vati, stranier, teori
(Laodamia, Euricleo, Faone, Alceo)
3 Recitativo: Nume del Ciel che sei
(Faone, Alceo)
4 Duetto: Langue d’amor quest’alma
(Faone, Alceo)
5 Recitativo: E tu perché non sciogli (Laodamia, Euricleo)
6 Duetto: Cessa di piangere per un ingrato
(Laodamia, Euricleo)
7 Recitativo: Così piacesse al Nume
8 Recitativo: Piacesse a te svelar quando
9 Aria: Soave, dolce, cara è la morte
0 Recitativo: Eppur mi fa pietà quell’infelice
(Laodamia, Euricleo)
! Recitativo: Odi il funesto grido
(Laodamia, Euricleo)
@ Coro: Palpitante... agitata... tremante
(Coro, Saffo, Faone, Alceo, Amfizione)
# Recitativo: Saffo, e che ti spaventa?
(Saffo, Alceo, Amfizione, Laodamia, Faone)
$ Recitativo: Quanti, crudeli, siete contro di me?
% Aria: Tacito e mesto in volto
^ Recitativo: T’arresti ancor!
(Saffo, Faone)
& Recitativo: Rispetta i giorni tuoi
* Cavatina: Nato son già alle lagrime
( Recitativo: Saffo, non ti smarir
Johann Simon Mayr (1763-1845)
Born in the Bavarian town of Mendorf, near Ingolstadt,
in 1763, Simon Mayr was the son of a schoolteacher and
showed some early ability as a musician. He was a pupil at
the Jesuit College in Ingolstadt, before entering the university
to study theology, while continuing to demonstrate great
versatility as a musician. His musical training, however, only
began in earnest in 1787, when a patron, noticing his talent,
took him to Italy. There, from 1789, he studied with Carlo
Lenzi, master of the music at Bergamo Cathedral. There
followed, through the generosity of another patron, a period
of study with Bertoni in Venice. His early commissioned
compositions were largely in the form of sacred oratorios,
but in 1794 his opera Saffo was staged in Venice. His turning
to opera owed much to the encouragement he received from
Piccinni and Peter von Winter, and other operas followed
) Aria: La dolce speranza disgombri il duol
¡ Recitativo: E quel pianto, quel duolo
™ Aria: Pallida morte, vieni: guidami
£ Recitativo: Andiam, miei fidi (Amfizione, Laodamia, Euricleo)
¢ Recitativo: Ciascun mi fugge (Faone)
∞ Coro: Dormi, riposa bell’alma amorosa
(Coro, Faone)
§ Recitativo: Vuoi ch’io la salvi!... oh, Dio
(Faone, Alceo)
¶ Aria: Dille... ma no... vorrei...
(Faone, Coro)
• Recitativo: Tutto svanì. Per questa volta invano
(Amfizione, Euricleo, Laodamia)
ª Coro: Vivi leggiadra e bella (Coro, Saffo, Alceo, Faone)
Saffo – Johann Simon Mayr’s first opera seria success
at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice
In 1787 Johann Simon Mayr left his native Bavaria and,
with the financial backing of Baron Thomas de Bassus and
his son Dominikus, made his way first to Poschiavo, then
to Bergamo. There he sought out Carlo Lenzi, then maestro
di cappella at the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, as his
teacher. In 1788 a grant enabled him to move on to Venice,
where he studied composition with Ferdinando Bertoni, who
introduced him to the important institutions and people in the
Operatic performances were an integral part of Italian
cultural life. After the largest and most important Venetian
opera house, San Benedetto, burned down in 1774 and the
management association and owners of the land failed to
come to an agreement about rebuilding it, the management
decided to build a theatre of its own. There were already six
opera houses at that time and the authorities initially refused
to build another, but then ended up doing so nevertheless, so
if the new opera house was to succeed, not just musically,
but also economically, its programming had to set it apart
from its competitors.
This it did. Its name already departed from the norm.
Whereas, until then, it had been usual to name an opera
house after its owner or the neighbouring “parocchia”, the
new house was named after a mythical creature, whose
choice could not have been more apt: Gran Teatro La Fenice.
Like the mythical bird, the phoenix, it arose from the ashes
and would, in the future, do so again. It wooed its audience
with numerous premières and the most important singers of
the day. Thus between 1792, when La Fenice opened, and
1814, the year of the Vienna Congress, for example, it staged
52 premières. According to legend, Mayr played violin in the
orchestra at La Fenice for a time.
After just two years, the Teatro La Fenice was one of the
most famous opera houses in Europe. Mayr had the good
fortune to have his first opera scheduled for Carnival. This
period was the most important in the operatic year. Theatregoers attended performances wearing costumes and masks.
This obviously made going to the theatre more attractive,
drove up audience numbers and made a significant
contribution to an establishment’s profits.
Mayr’s opera seria Saffo was first heard on 18th February
for Venice and then for La Scala, Milan, and for other Italian
theatres, with an increasingly large number of performances
abroad. In 1802 he followed Lenzi as maestro di cappella at
the cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo, becoming
director of the cathedral choir school three years later. Mayr
held these positions until his death in 1845. As a teacher he
won the particular respect of his pupil Gaetano Donizetti. He
did much to promote the knowledge of the Viennese classical
composers, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, in Italy. His own
style reflects something of this, but essentially in an Italian
context. He was, needless to say, immensely prolific as a
composer, with nearly seventy operas to his credit between
1794 and 1824, and some six hundred sacred works.
Keith Anderson
1794 at the Teatro La Fenice. It was repeated on 19th and
26th February of that same year. Saffo was Mayr’s first
opera, and its success helped him progress as an operatic
composer. The performance was given to a full house, and
the audience response was enthusiastic. The report in Il
Nuovo Postiglione. Novelle del Mondo, for example, speaks
of a “grandiose spectacle and sustained applause”.
The singers for the first performance were Marianna
Vinci (Saffo) and Matteo Babini (Alceo). The role of Faone
was sung by the castrato Girolamo Crescentini, who was
enjoying huge success in Venice at that time. Mayr remained
faithful to the practice that had been customary for opera
seria of composing the male lead for a male soprano.
Nowadays, these so-called “trouser rôles” are mostly sung
by female sopranos.
The early years of Teatro La Fenice had a decisive
influence on Mayr; he composed seven opere serie in just
eight years (1794-1801). Just a year after the première of
Saffo, he received his second commission for La Fenice and
composed Lodoiska.
In his oratorios Jacob a fugians (1791) [Naxos 8.573237]
and Sisara (1793) and his cantata Femio (1791), Mayr had
already tried out the prescribed forms of contemporary opera
which, around 1800, consisted in alternating arias, secco
and accompanied recitative and instrumental numbers.
Mayr, however, varies this scheme in an attempt to achieve
dramatic coherence. While an opera seria is generally
divided into three acts, Saffo occupies two. Identifying Mayr’s
stylistic traits as an opera composer vis-à-vis those of his
competitors is somewhat problematical, because relatively
little of the enormous output of new operas has hitherto been
made accessible, but it does seem as though the up-andcoming young composer set out to surprise his audience and
win them over with carefully planned and striking musical
solutions in his first opera.
The four-part Sinfonia (Adagio maestoso – Allegro –
Andantino – Allegro) already follows neither the Italian nor
the French pattern and displays contrapuntal combinations
that may have been inspired by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s
‘Prague’ Symphony, K 504, or the overture to The Magic
The opera’s accompanied recitatives are worked out
in detail, mostly with string accompaniment, occasionally
supported by woodwind, the Affekt (emotion) being carefully
brought out in each instance. This is also true of numbers
such as Saffo’s opening aria, where the character’s inner
agitation is mirrored in the image of a turbulent ocean. Among
Mayr’s theoretical writings is a treatise on instrumentation,
produced in his later years, which would merit rediscovery.
It shows how much thought he devoted to the musical
realisation of text and the targeted use of precisely the
woodwind instruments.
Other delicate “registrations” worthy of note include
the wind band-style accompaniment of the recitative Nume
del ciel (CD 2, 3) and the supportive accompanying string
figures of the ensuing duet Langue d’amor (CD 2, 4),
and Saffo’s aria Soave, dolce, (CD 2, 9) where a pair of
oboes give expression and colour to the heroine’s amorous
torment. There are also striking sound effects in the male
chorus Dormi, riposa (CD 2, –), which is set into a recitative
in several sections and gives vivid expression to the vision
Faone sees in his dream. Finally, it is worth mentioning the
effective construction of the finale to Act One, Amor crudel
(CD 1, –), where the chorus provides the momentum.
Perhaps Johann Simon Mayr’s musical achievement
was not least to combine innovations from the so-called
“Viennese School” of Classicism with the Italian ideal of bel
canto, aided by his particular sensitivity to formal proportion
and dramatic development.
and dreams of finding Cirene in Hades (™). For Saffo, Faone’s
rejection is like an oracle: she contemplates her own death,
planning to jump off the cliff into the sea (£). The priests urge
Saffo, Faone and Alceo to submit to the Pythia’s guidance
CD 1
Act One
Saffo (Sappho), Alceo (Alcaeus), Faone (Phaon) and the
Chorus of Priests assemble in front of the temple in the
Greek city of Leucadia. The Pythia, or High Priestess, alias
Amfizione, is to pronounce an oracle inspired by Apollo (2).
Faone, a huntsman from Lesbos, sacrifices game he has shot,
hoping for relief from the torments of his love (3-4). Alceo
is the leader of the group of Greek poets (5). He presents
himself as an worshipper of Cupid and Venus (6), but is
secretly in love with Saffo. Announced by the Pythia (7), Saffo
enters to an instrumental introduction (8). She laments her
sufferings and her lovesick longing. The Pythia, or priestess,
seeks to comfort her (9). For a moment, Saffo appears to
be comforted (0), though she compares her torment to an
ocean wave whipped up by the wind until it towers aloft before
breaking (!). The Pythia suddenly shows a different side of
herself: She is hoping for a fresh victim (@-#). Alceo meets
Saffo and confesses his love to her; he wishes to save her
from the disaster that threatens ($-^). Torni la pace al cor
(May peace return to your heart, &). He reports that Faone
is in Leucadia visiting the temple. This only increases Saffo’s
feeling of disquiet (*). Faone’s friends strike up a chorus in
an attempt to cheer up their melancholy associate ((). But
Faone is filled with pain as he recalls his dead wife, Cirene
()). Saffo and Faone meet by chance. Faone once left Saffo
and bestowed his affections on Cirene. Saffo still clearly loves
Faone; he, of course, is not interested (¡). He curses his fate
Marion Englhart
Translation: Sue Baxter
CD 2
Act Two
Inside the temple. Led in by a processional chorus (1),
Saffo, Alceo and Faone make their prayers to Apollo, asking
that he hear them, grant their wishes (2-3) and mediate
in their unhappiness. Laodamia and Euricleo try to console
Saffo (5-6 and !) out of compassion (0). But they are
only fleetinglly successful (7). Saffo, of course, is envisaging
death: Soave, dolce, cara è la morte quando ella è termine d’un
rio dolor (Death is sweet and pleasant when it puts an end to
terrible pain, 8-9). The Pythia appears before the assembled
people, makes a brief, enigmatic utterance, and quickly
withdraws (@). Her appearance is interpreted differently by the
various protagonists, each of them seeing it as confirmation of
their own view of things (#). Alceo is tormented by his ardent
love for Saffo, but would be prepared to renounce her in favour
of Faone (#-$). Ah tutti voi volete tutti stracciarmi il cor (Ah,
all of you wish to tear my heart in pieces, he declaims in his
aria (%). Saffo then threatens Faone with her demise: Ma
ingrato, trema, lo stesso Apollo, egli medesimo sia il Nume
ancor della vendetta mia (But tremble, ungrateful man, Apollo
himself will be the god of my revenge, ^). But he is wrapped
up in the shadows of the past (&-*). The Pythia endeavours
to lend support to Saffo’s dark thoughts ((-) and £) and to
prepare her death (£), while Saffo seems reconciled to her
fate (£) and, in a state of apparent delusion, takes leave of
the world in a touching song: Pallida morte, vieni (Come, pale
death, ™). Faone, too, succumbs to a depression that is close
to death (¢), standing alone and dreaming about his dead
wife Cirene: Dormi, riposa (Sleep, take your rest, ∞). Furies
seem to encircle him, Cirene appears and asks him to take pity
on Saffo (§). Faone awakens, torn between various emotions
(¶). Meanwhile Saffo climbs the Leucadian cliffs, intending
to plunge into the deep, but Faone resolves to save her (•).
The final chorus of rejoicing proclaims the lovers’ union (ª).
Franz Hauk
Translation: Sue Baxter
Andrea Lauren Brown
Born in Wilmington/Delaware, the soprano Andrea Lauren Brown holds a Master of Music degree in
Voice Pedagogy and Performance from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and a
Bachelor of Music degree from West Chester University, in Pennsylvania, where she graduated summa
cum laude. She was a prize-winner at the International Summer Academy of the Mozarteum University
of Salzburg in 2002 and won second place at the 2003 ARD International Music Competition in Munich.
She has sung in many of the most important theatres and festivals of Europe, performing both opera
and concert repertoire in at least twenty different countries, in collaboration with leading conductors,
and in 2006 took the principal rôle of Pamina in Bernhard Lang’s opera I Hate Mozart. With a repertoire
ranging from the baroque to the contemporary, she has a number of successful recordings to her credit,
including Thomas Larcher’s Ixxu, Thomas Hengelbrock´s Dixit Dominus of Handel and the Symphonie
Sacrae of Schütz.
Markus Schäfer
The tenor Markus Schäfer studied singing and church music in Karlsruhe and Düsseldorf with Armand
McLane. He was a prize-winner in Berlin and Milan and made his début at the Zurich Opera Studio,
followed by engagements at the Hamburg State Opera and the Düsseldorf Oper am Rhein. His
subsequent career has brought appearances in major theatres and concert halls in Europe and America,
collaborating with distinguished conductors and a number of award-winning recordings. He teaches
singing at the Hanover Music and Theatre Hochschule.
Jaewon Yun
Born in Seoul (South Korea), Jaewon Yun graduated in singing at the Seoul National University. Since
2012 she has studied at the Munich Music and Theatre Hochschule under Frieder Lang. Her rôles have
included Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel), Flora Bervoix (La Traviata), and the première of Ujong Choe’s
Francisca at the Sejong Culture Centre. Her awards include first prize at the Hoseo University Music
Competition, third prize in the 2010 CBS Music Competition as well as a Cheryl Studer Scholarship from
the Berlin Summer University of the Arts. In March 2013 she sang the part of Adelasia in Simon Mayr’s
opera Adelasia ed Aleramo under Andreas Spering, in the production by Tilman Knabe.
Marie-Sande Papenmeyer
Bavarian State Opera Chorus
Katharina Ruckgaber
Simon Mayr Chorus • Concerto de Bassus
The mezzo-soprano Marie-Sande Papenmeyer had her initial vocal training at the Carl Maria von Weber
Musikhochschule in Dresden. Since 2010 she has continued under Peter Anton Ling at the Hanover
Musikhochschule and in the Lieder class of Jan Philip Schulze. She has also worked under Cheryl Studer,
Christian Immler, Juliane Banse and Olaf Bär. In 2009 she won the Stadt Perleberg Prize in the Lotte
Lehmann Week. She has sung in a number of operatic productions and concerts. Since 2012 she has
been a member of the Hanover Youg Opera Ensemble.
The Bavarian State Opera Chorus has a long and distinguished history and appears
in a wide repertoire, sharing with the Bavarian State Orchestra and Bavarian State
Ballet a repertoire of some 350 opera and ballet performances annually at the Munich
National Theatre, the Prince Regent Theatre and the Old Residence Theatre. Sören
Eckhoff has been director since 2010, with Stellario Fagone as his deputy.
The Simon Mayr Chorus was established by Franz Hauk in 2003. The repertoire of
the choir includes works from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. Special emphasis
is laid on authentic historical performance and on the promotion of music by Simon
Mayr at the highest cultural level. Members of the choir are vocal students from the
Munich Hochschule für Music und Theater and singers selected from Ingolstadt and
the region. The chorus and the ensemble, newly re-named Concerto de Bassus, with
players drawn from leading German orchestras, have recorded a number of works by
Simon Mayr for Naxos.
The soprano Katharina Ruckgaber was born in Munich, completing her studies in 2014 at the Music and
Theatre Hochschule there and at the Bavarian August Everding Theatre Academy. She studied singing
with Andreas Schmidt and Helmut Deutsch and in 2014 made her Frankfurt Opera début as Euridice in
Telemann’s Orpheus and at the Munich Gärtnerplatz in the leading female rôle in the première of Wilfried
Hiller’s Der Flaschengeist. In 2015 she made her début at the Berlin Konzerthaus Berlin as Fennimore
in Weill’s Der Silbersee. She has been awarded a number of scholarships, and since 2014 has been a
member of the Frankfurt Opera Studio.
Daniel Preis
The tenor Daniel Preis hails from Donaueschingen in the Schwarzwald-Baar-Kreis. After school, he
studied German and History, changing to vocal studies at the Institute for Music at Osnabrück. In autumn
2013 he joined the Hanover Music, Theatre and Media Hochschule, studying under Markus Schäfer.
Daniel Preis has appeared in various productions and concerts.
Franz Hauk
Born in Neuburg an der Donau in 1955, Franz Hauk studied church and school music, with piano and
organ, at the Munich Musikhochschule and in Salzburg. In 1988 he took his doctorate with a thesis on
church music in Munich at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Since 1982 he has served as organist
at Ingolstadt Minster, and since 1995 also as choirmaster. He has given concerts in Europe and the United
States and made a number of recordings. Since October 2002 he has taught in the historical performance
and church music department of the Munich Music and Theatre Hochschule, while winning a reputation
for his research and the performances he has directed. He founded the Simon Mayr Choir in 2003, and in
2013 was awarded the German Order of Merit.
Johann Simon Mayr (1763-1845)
Simon Mayr wurde am 14. Juni 1763 als Sohn eines
Schulmeisters im niederbayerischen Mendorf bei Kelheim
geboren. Schon früh zeigte er musikalisches Talent. Mayr
war Schüler am Jesuitenkolleg in Ingolstadt, bevor er an der
Universität Theologie studierte. Dabei zeigte er weiterhin
beachtliche Vielseitigkeit als Musiker. Seine ernsthafte
musikalische Ausbildung begann gleichwohl erst 1787, als
ein Gönner, der sein Talent erkannt hatte, ihn mit nach Italien
nahm. Dort studierte er von 1789 an bei Carlo Lenzi, dem
musikalischen Leiter der Kathedrale zu Bergamo. Ein anderer
Gönner ermöglichte ihm eine Zeit bei F. Bertoni in Venedig.
Mayrs frühe Kompositionsaufträge waren hauptsächlich
geistliche Oratorien, doch 1794 wurde in Venedig seine Oper
Saffo aufgeführt. Seine Hinwendung zur Oper hatte viel mit
der Ermutigung zu tun, die ihm Niccolò Piccinni (1728–1800)
und Peter von Winter (1754–1825) zuteil werden ließen.
Weitere Opern folgten: für Venedig und dann die Mailänder
Scala wie auch für andere italienische Theater. Auch die Zahl
der Aufführungen im Ausland nahm zu. 1802 trat Mayr die
Nachfolge Lenzis als maestro di capella an der Kathedrale
S. Maria Maggiore in Bergamo an. Drei Jahre später wurde
er Direktor der Chorschule an der Kathedrale; diese Position
behielt er bis zu seinem Tod 1845. Als Lehrer gewann er
großes Ansehen, besonders bei seinem in Bergamo geborenen
Schüler Gaetano Donizetti (1797–1848). Mayr tat viel, um die
Komponisten der Wiener Klassik in Italien bekannt zu
machen. Sein eigener Stil spiegelt das ganz im italienischen
Kontext wider. Er war als Komponist von fast 70 Opern
zwischen 1794 und 1824 und über 600 geistlichen Werken
außerordentlich fruchtbar.
Keith Anderson
Deutsche Fassung: Thomas Theise
Saffo – Johann Simon Mayrs erster Erfolg einer Opera seria
am Teatro La Fenice in Venedig
Gefördert von Baron Thomas de Bassus und dessen Sohn
Dominikus verließ Johann Simon Mayr 1787 seine bayerische
Heimat. Er wandte sich zunächst nach Poschiavo, dann nach
Bergamo. Dort suchte er den Unterricht von Carlo Lenzi, dem
damaligen Kapellmeister der Kirche Santa Maria Maggiore. Ein
Stipendium ermöglichte 1788 ihm den Wechsel nach Venedig,
wo Ferdinando Bertoni ihn in der Komposition unterwies und ihn
mit den wichtigen Institutionen und Personen der Lagunenstadt
vertraut machte.
Opernaufführungen waren in Italien fester Bestandteil
des kulturellen Lebens. Nachdem das wichtigste und größte
Opernhaus in Venedig, San Benedetto, 1774 abgebrannt war und
sich die Betreibergesellschaft und die Grundstückseigentümer
nicht auf einen gemeinsamen Wiederaufbau einigen konnten,
beschloss die Betreibergesellschaft, ein eigenes Theater zu
errichten. Da es bereits sechs Opernhäuser zu dieser Zeit gab
und die Regierung sich zunächst weigerte, ein weiteres zu
errichten, dies aber schließlich trotzdem tat, musste sich das neue
Opernhaus in seiner programmatischen Ausrichtung deutlich von
seinen Mitbewerbern unterscheiden, um erfolgreich zu sein; und
das nicht nur musikalisch, sondern auch wirtschaftlich.
Und das tat es! Bereits bei der Namensgebung ging man
neue Wege. War es bis dato üblich, das Opernhaus nach dem
Besitzer oder der benachbarten „parocchia“ zu benennen, erhielt
das neue Opernhaus den Namen eines Fabelwesens, der
treffender nicht hätte gewählt werden können: Gran Teatro La
Fenice. Wie der Fabelvogel Phönix ist es aus Asche entstanden
und wird auch in seiner Zukunft wieder aus Asche neu entstehen.
Mit zahlreichen Premieren und den bedeutenden Sänger der
damaligen Zeit wurde geworben. So fanden beispielsweise
zwischen 1792 – der Eröffnung des Fenice – bis 1814 – dem
Jahr des Wiener Kongresses – 52 Uraufführungen statt. Mayr
soll im Orchester des Fenice zeitweise die Violine gespielt
haben, erzählt eine Legende.
Bereits nach zwei Jahren zählte das Teatro La Fenice zu den
berühmtesten Opernhäusern in Europa. Mayr hatte das Glück,
dass seine erste Oper für die Karnevalszeit bestimmt war. Die
Karnevalszeit war die wichtigste Spielzeit im Opernjahr. Das
Publikum besuchte die Aufführungen maskiert. Das steigerte
natürlich die Attraktivität des Theaterbesuchs, förderte den
Publikumszulauf und trug somit wesentlich zur Rendite eines
Theaterbetriebs bei.
Mayrs Opera seria Saffo erklang erstmals am 18. Februar
1794 im Teatro La Fenice. Wiederholungen folgten am 19. und
26. Februar des Jahres. Saffo ist Mayrs Operndebüt. Der Erfolg
dieses Werkes beförderte Mayrs Opernkarriere. Die Aufführung
fand vor vollem Haus statt, das Publikum reagierte begeistert. So
berichtet z.B. Il Nuovo Postiglione. Novelle del Mondo von einem
grandiosen Schauspiel und langanhaltendem Applaus.
Die Sänger der Uraufführung waren Marianna Vinci (Saffo)
und Matteo Babini (Alceo). Die Rolle des Faone übernahm der
Kastrat Girolamo Crescentini, der zur damaligen Zeit in Venedig
große Triumphe feierte. Mayr blieb der bisherigen Gepflogenheit
der Opera seria treu, die männliche Hauptrolle für einen
Sopranisten zu komponieren. Heute werden diese sogenannten
„Hosenrollen“ meistens von weiblichen Sopranistinnen
Mayr prägte die Anfangszeit des Teatro La Fenice
ganz entscheidend: Er komponierte sieben Opere serie im
Zeitraum von nur acht Jahren (1794 – 1801). Ein Jahr nach
der Uraufführung von Saffo erhielt er bereits seinen zweiten
Opernauftrag am Fenice und komponierte die Oper Lodoiska.
Mit den Oratorien Jacob a fugiens (1791) [Naxos 8.573237]
und Sisara (1793), auch mit der Kantate Femio (1791) hatte Mayr
bereits den zeitgenössischen Formenkodex der Oper erprobt,
der um 1800 aus dem Wechsel von Arie, Recitativo secco
und accompagnato sowie Instrumentalstücken bestand. Mayr
variiert dieses Schema allerdings im Sinne einer dramatischen
Durchformung. Ist die Handlung einer Opera seria generell in
drei Akte eingeteilt, so spielt Saffo in zwei Akten. Stilistische
Indizien im Vergleich zu konkurrierenden Opernkomponisten
herauszuarbeiten erscheint eher problematisch, weil das riesige
Repertoire an neuen Opern heute erst in vergleichsweise
wenigen Fällen erschlossen ist. Doch scheint es, als wenn der
junge und aufstrebende Tonsetzer das Publikum in seinem
Opern-Erstling mit sorgfältig geplanten, eindrucksvollen
musikalischen Lösungen überraschen und für sich gewinnen
Bereits die vierteilig (Adagio maestoso – Allegro –
Andantino – Allegro) angelegte einleitende Sinfonia folgt weder
dem italienischen, noch dem französischen Typus und zeigt
kontrapunktische Kombinationen, die vielleicht von Werken wie
der Prager Sinfonie KV 504 oder der Ouvertüre zur Zauberflöte
von Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart angeregt wurden.
Die Accompagnati der Oper sind ausführlich formuliert, meist
streicherbegleitet, bisweilen unterstützt von den Holzbläsern –
der jeweilige Affekt wird sorgsam herausgearbeitet. Dies gilt auch
für Nummern wie die Eingangsarie der Saffo, bei der die innere
Erregung der Solistin gespiegelt wird im Bild des aufgewühlten
Meeres. An theoretischen Schriften verfasste Mayr in späteren
Jahren eine Instrumentationslehre, die einer Wiederentdeckung
wert wäre und die zeigt, wie eingehend er sich mit der textlichen
Umsetzung und dem gezielten Einsatz gerade der Holzbläser
An delikaten „Registrierungen“ seien noch hervorgehoben
das im Stile einer Harmoniemusik von Bläsern gestützte Rezitativ
„Nume del ciel“ (CD 2, 3) mit dem anschließenden Duett
„Langue d’amor“ (CD 2, 4), wo die Streicher mit begleitenden
Figuren sekundieren, und die Arie der Saffo „Soave, dolce“ (CD
2, 9), bei der zwei Oboen das Liebesleid der Protagonistin
ausdrucksvoll abtönen. Aparte Klangwirkungen zeigt auch der
in ein mehrteiliges Rezitativ eingebaute Männerchor „Dormi,
riposa“ (CD 2, –), der die Traumvision des Faone plastisch
untermalt. Schließlich sei noch das wirkungsvoll aufgebaute,
vom Chor befeuerte Finale zum ersten Akt „Amor crudel“ (CD
1, –) erwähnt.
Vielleicht besteht Johann Simon Mayrs musikgeschichtliches
Verdienst nicht zuletzt darin, Errungenschaften der sogenannten
„Wiener Klassik“ mit einem italienischen Belcanto-Ideal zu
verbinden. Unterstützt wurde er dabei von einem besonderen
Gespür für formale Proportionen und für dramatische
Marion Englhart
Inhalt der Oper
Faone freilich will davon nichts wissen (¡). Er hadert mit
seinem Schicksal und träumt davon, Cirene im Hades zu
begegnen (™). Für Saffo ist Faones Ablehnung wie ein
bereits ausgesprochenes Orakel: Sie sinnt nun auf den
eigenen Tod und will sich vom Felsen ins Meer stürzen (£).
Die Priester drängen Saffo, Faone und Alceo, sich dem
Wahlspruch der Pythia zu unterwerfen (¢-∞).
CD 2
CD 1
Erster Akt
Im ersten Akt versammeln sich Saffo, Alceo, Faone und
der Chor der Priester vor dem Tempel in der griechischen
Stadt Leukas. Pythia alias Amfizione, die Oberpriesterin,
soll ein Orakel des Apollo verkünden (2). Faone, ein
Jäger aus Lesbos, opfert erlegtes Wild und erhofft sich die
Linderung seiner Liebespein (3-4). Alceo leitet die Gruppe
griechischer Poeten (5). Er zeigt sich als ein Verehrer von
Amor und Venus (6), liebt indes heimlich Saffo. Angekündigt
von Pythia (7) und instrumental eingeführt, tritt Saffo auf (8).
Sie klagt über ihre Leiden und ihre Liebessehnsucht. Pythia,
die Priesterin, sucht sie zu trösten (9). Saffo wirkt einen
Moment beruhigt (0), freilich, sie vergleicht ihre Pein mit
einer Meereswoge, die der Wind gegen den Himmel drückt
und bricht (!). Pythia zeigt plötzlich ein anderes Gesicht:
Sie hofft auf ein neues Opfer (@-#). Alceo begegnet Saffo,
gesteht ihr seine Liebe und will sie vor drohendem Unheil
retten ($-^): „Torni la pace al cor“ – „Möge der Frieden
in das Herz zurückkehren.“ (&). Er meldet, dass Faone in
Leukas sei und den Tempel besuche. Saffos innere Unruhe
wird dadurch noch gesteigert (*). Faones Freunde stimmen
ein Chorlied an, sie versuchen den Betrübten aufzuheitern
((). Doch Faone denkt schmerzerfüllt an seine verstorbene
Gattin Cirene ()). Saffo und Faone treffen zusammen. Faone
hatte einst Saffo verlassen und sich Cirene zugewandt. Saffo
zeigt gegenüber Faone noch immer Gefühle der Liebe,
Zweiter Akt
Der zweite Akt spielt im Inneren des Tempels. Eingeleitet
vom Chor der Teorie (1) erheben Saffo, Alceo und Faone
ihre Gebete zu Apollo, er möge sie erhören, ihre Wünsche
erfüllen (2-3) und ihr Unglück schlichten (4). Laodamia und
Euricleo spüren Mitleid (0) und versuchen Saffo zu trösten
(5-6, !). Dies gelingt nur einen Augenblick (7). Saffo
freilich sieht ihren Tod vor Augen: „Soave, dolce, cara è la
morte quando ella è termine d‘un rio dolor.” – „Lieblich, sanft,
teuer ist der Tod, wenn er das Ende eines schrecklichen
Schmerzes ist.“ (8-9). Die Pythia erscheint vor der Menge
des versammelten Volkes. Sie spricht rätselhafte, knappe
Worte und zieht sich rasch wieder zurück (@). Ihr Auftritt
wird von den Anwesenden unterschiedlich gedeutet, jeder
der Protagonisten sieht seine eigene Vision bestätigt (#).
Alceo quält seine flammende Liebe zu Saffo, er wäre aber
bereit, zugunsten von Faone zu entsagen (#-$). In seiner
Arie deklamiert er: „Ah tutti voi volete tutti stracciarmi il
cor“ – „Ach, ihr alle wollt mein Herz zerfetzen.“ (%). Saffo
droht nun Faone mit ihrem Untergang: „Ma ingrato, trema,
lo stesso Apollo, egli medesmo sia il Nume ancor della
vendetta mia.“ – „Aber zittere, Undankbarer, Apollo selbst,
er selber, soll auch der Gott meiner Rache sein.“ (^).
Faone wiederum ist in die Schatten der Vergangenheit
eingesponnen (&-*). Pythia sucht Saffo in ihren finsteren
Gedanken zu unterstützen ((-), £) und dessen Abgang
vorzubereiten (£), während sich Saffo in sein Schicksal
zu fügen scheint (¡) und selbst wie im Wahn mit einem
anrührenden Gesang von der Welt Abschied nimmt: „Pallida
morte, vieni“ – „Komm, blasser Tod“ (™). Auch Faone verfällt
in todesnahe Depression (¢), er steht allein und träumt von
seiner verstorbene Gattin Cirene: „Dormi, riposa“ – „Schlafe,
erhole dich“ (∞). Furien scheinen ihn zu umzingeln, Cirene
tritt auf und bittet, mit Saffo Mitleid zu haben (§). Faone
erwacht, hin- und hergerissen von seinen Gefühlen (¶).
Währenddessen steigt Saffo auf den Felsen von Leucas, um
sich in die Tiefe zu stürzen. Doch Faone entschließt sich,
Saffo zu retten (•). Der jubelnde Schlußchor verkündet das
Zusammenfinden der beiden Liebenden (ª).
Also available
Franz Hauk
No one did more to combine in his operas the innovations of the Viennese classical composers, Haydn, Mozart
and Beethoven, with the Italian ideal of bel canto than Johann Simon Mayr, the Bavarian composer who rose
to fame in Italy. His opera Saffo, first performed in 1794, dates from his years in Venice. Not only was it his first
opera but it was premièred at the Teatro La Fenice where it was enthusiastically received. It is full of surprising
and striking elements, with a strong musical realisation of the text, supportive string and woodwind writing
and vivid solo and choral effects. Set by the Rock of Leucas, from which unsuccessful lovers leap to their
deaths, the opera deals with the poetess Sappho’s unhappy love for Phaon, finally resolved in a happy ending.
Johann Simon
Playing Time
Dramma per musica in due atti • Libretto by Antonio Simeone Sografi
Saffo (Sappho) .................................................... Andrea Lauren Brown, Soprano
Faone (Phaon) ....................................................................... Jaewon Yun, Soprano
Alceo (Alcaeus) ................................................................... Markus Schäfer, Tenor
Amfizione (The Pythia) ..................... Marie Sande Papenmeyer, Mezzo-soprano
Laodamia .............................................................. Katharina Ruckgaber, Soprano
Euricleo (Euricles) .................................................................... Daniel Preis, Tenor
Members of the Bavarian State Opera Chorus
Simon Mayr Chorus • Concerto de Bassus
Theona Gubba-Chkeidze, Concertmaster
CD 1 1 Sinfonia
2-∞ Act One
Franz Hauk, Harpsichord and Conductor
CD 2 1-ª Act Two
Recorded in the Kongregationssaal, Neuburg, Germany, 25th-31st August 2014
Producer, Engineer and Editor: Sebastian Riederer • Booklet notes: Marion Englhart, Keith Anderson and Franz Hauk
Cover collage: Paolo Zeccara • Edition by Marion Englhart • Sponsors: Simon Mayr-Chor, Freunde der Musik am Münster,
Bezirk Oberbayern, Gemeinnützige Wohnungsbau Gesellschaft Ingolstadt GmbH, Stadt Neuburg, Margarete Baronin de Bassus
The libretto and English and German translations can be accessed at

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